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Movie Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard regarding The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is along the lines of “There’s too much CGI!”  And I can sort of see where they are coming from, but even having heard those complaints prior to seeing the movie and therefore paying extra attention to the CG effects, I didn’t agree.  Yes, there was more CGI than in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it was also better CGI.  I barely even noticed it, and it certainly didn’t bother me.

Now, I’m not going to talk about the story much, both to avoid spoilers and because it doesn’t seem fair to me to judge what I consider the first third of a movie.  Something I do want to talk about is the tone.

The Hobbit pandered.  Unabashedly.  In a bad way.  There were scenes and lines that clearly had no purpose other than to evoke a laugh from the fans of the LotR trilogy.  A one-liners by various main characters and the entire scene with Gollum completely derailed the otherwise ‘epic saga’ tone of the movie.  Gollum is NOT supposed to be funny in this movie, people!  His scene is supposed to be creepy as all get-out, not comedic pandering to his fans.

The only other thing that bothered me was the dwarves.  I couldn’t hope to phrase it better than a friend of mine, so I’ll just quote her: “Dwarves are not supposed to be sexy, and at least three of them were.”  Mostly Thorin, Kili, and Fili.  Dwarves should be stocky and have big, bushy beards!  Thorin is the ruler, and he just has a trimmed goatee!

In all other respects, however, it was an excellent movie.  The action scenes were intense, and the music fit the story well.  It has very similar elements to the LotR soundtracks, with a heavier low brass section that seemed very representative of the dwarf-focused story.

Also, the scenery.  My goodness the scenery.  The elven city of Rivendell and the dwarf kingdom of Erebor were beautifully rendered on the big screen, and the level of detail was what I’ve come to expect from the LotR trilogy.  It was much, much more vivid the the trilogy, though, with more vibrant and varied colors.

All in all, this movie mostly served as an appetizer for the second movie.  Since they’re not staying perfectly true to the details of the book, I’m extremely hopeful that the Necromancer, credited as Benedict Cumberbatch, will play a bigger role in these movies than he did in Tolkien’s book.  When the complete trilogy is out, I’ll give this movie a rating, but in the meantime, I’ll just say it’s very good, definitely worth watching.


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Movie Review: The Avengers: Final Thought

The hardest part of being a detective is seeing what isn’t there.  I’m no detective, but it also applies here, since I just noticed something that wasn’t in The Avengers.


Except for a little flirting between Tony and Pepper in the very beginning, and a little between Hawkeye and Black Widow, who are both heroes, so they didn’t have to have a useless female love interest, there was no romance.  It was solely an action comedy.

Which is a very good thing, in my opinion.  Trying to have a romantic sub-plot would have slowed down and weakened the movie.  Plus, it would have meant less screen time for the actual Avengers if they had tried to include Hulk’s girlfriend or Thor’s.

The more I think about this movie, the more I like it.

SPOILER: Loki: Enough! You are, all of you are beneath me! I am a god, you dull creature, and I shall not be bullied… 
[Hulk flattens Loki with repeated smashes into the floor
The Hulk: Puny god.  End Spoiler.

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Movie Review: The Avengers

So I went to see the Avengers on Mothers’ Day with my family, and my take-away first impression was, “Every second of that movie was either funny or action-packed or both.”

Then I went to see it again, this past Monday, and my second opinion was, “All right, not every moment was funny or action-packed or both.  But most of them were.”

One of the great things about it was that it needed little to no exposition for the heroes.  The previous five movies (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk) introduced us to most of the characters, even the ones like Hawkeye and Black Widow who weren’t the focus of the films.

Another thing was that Joss Whedon was heavily involved.  As anyone who’s watched Firefly, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, or both can tell you, Joss Whedon is a master of comedy, both spoken and physical.  I’m sure his involvement in The Avengers was a big part in its awesomeness.

All right, so I’m done waxing eloquent about how great it was, and I’m actually going to discuss the movie.  Anytime you see the word ‘spoiler’ like this ‘SPOILER:’, it means there is white text in front of it that you can highlight to see.

So The Avengers begins with a big threat (naturally), and you should be able to figure what it is, if you’ve seen the first movies.  Director Fury needs backup.  Super-powered backup.  So he goes looking for our intrepid heroes.

Cap’s easy.  He’s on hand, since SHIELD thawed him out, and since he’s a soldier, he’s ready and willing to help.  Banner, however, is in hiding, Natasha is on assignment, and Stark is busy with his own stuff.

Now some movies have a deus ex machina here, which forces our heroes together.  Not so in The Avengers.  Each one has a nice little story bit that pulls them smoothly into the main flow.

SPOILER: I especially liked Natasha’s.  “You can’t call me when I’m on assignment. I’m in the middle of an interrogation, this moron’s giving me everything.” Russian: “I… I not give everything…”  And then Banner’s: “STOP LYING TO ME! … I’m sorry, that was mean. I just wanted to see how you’d react.” End Spoiler

But once they’re together, there’s still friction between them.  Cap and Tony get into conflicts over following orders, everyone’s edgy around Banner, Thor’s condescending, and Fury’s aloof and secretive.  Their petty arguments, however, get dropped pretty fast when a catastrophe (another one) demands action.

They’re still not a team.  As Banner puts it, “A team? No, no, we’re a time bomb.”  But then something happens, something so small in the eyes of the villain, but which binds the team together.

SPOILER: Agent Coleson’s death, and Fury’s slight manipulation with the trading cards following it. End Spoiler.

And once the Avengers are united, they are all kinds of epic.  Plus, given that Hulk and Thor (and Iron Man, to a lesser extent) are essentially invincible, there’s plenty of room for heroic slapstick.

SPOILER: Such as Hulk punching Thor across the room after they take down that worm thing. End Spoiler.

The final battle of the movie is one of the single greatest long battles ever.  All six of the Avengers have epic scenes, and funny scenes, and epic funny scenes, and even the villain has a funny line.

So, some ratings, and then I’ll have a big spoiler block with my favorite scenes.

Visuals: 5/5 They even included Thor’s armoring-up scene, which I thought was the single coolest thing in his entire movie.

Dialog: 5/5 Tony Stark, man. Every time he opens his mouth, funny happens.

Story: 5/5 Big epic threat, believable finish, cliffhanger at the end, but not one that leaves you without closure.

Oh, and when you see it, stay ALL the way through the credits.  There is a second bonus scene.


Tony Stark: Dr. Banner, your work is unparalleled. And I’m a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster. 

Bruce Banner: I don’t think we should be focusing on Loki. That guy’s brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on him. 
Thor: Have a care how you speak. Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard. And he is my brother. 
Natasha Romanoff: He killed eighty people in two days. 
Thor: He’s adopted. 

Natasha Romanoff: [discussing attacking Loki] They’re basically gods. 
Steve Rogers: Ma’am, there’s only one God, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that. 

World Security Council: Director Fury, the council has made a decision. 
Nick Fury: I recognise the council has made a decision, but given that it’s a stupid-ass decision, I’ve elected to ignore it. 

Natasha Romanoff: [watching the aliens come toward them] This is just like Budapest all over again. 
Clint Barton: You and I remember Budapest very differently. 

Tony Stark: [chased by a Leviathan] Guys, I’m bringing the party to you! 
[he and the Leviathan break out of a building and speed away toward the rest of the Avengers
Natasha Romanoff: I don’t see how that’s a party. 

Loki: [after Thor charges at Loki’s duplicate and gets locked in a prison] Are you ever *not* going to fall for that? 

End Spoiler, and End post.


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